Last week DotNetNuke OpenForce Europe '07 kicked off our first round of officially sponsored conferences for the DotNetNuke community. We have been planning for the OpenForce conferences for over a year and it was great just to get the first one out of the way. Since we have never put together a conference before, we were not always sure what to expect. The European conference was added in the early summer to our conference lineup, and we did not have as much time as we wanted to get all of the desired marketing pieces in place, but our European community members did not let us down. Once they came back from summer vacation, the Europeans registered for the conference in record numbers. Ultimately, the OpenForce conference resulted in a substantial increase over past SDC conference attendance numbers. The community support could easily be seen in the conference rooms where DotNetNuke speakers often had more attendees and received higher scores than many of their SDC speaker counterparts.
Even with a short timeframe to plan the conference, we were able to work with SDC to create a great speaker line-up. With topics ranging from localization, to skinning, to advanced module development, and even a discussion on DotNetNuke business opportunities, speakers provided relevant content for everyone in the DotNetNuke community. Shaun and I also had a panel discussion, moderated by Richard Campbell from DotNetRocks, where we talked about where DotNetNuke is headed in the coming year. Unfortunately, due to a travel mix-up, Carl Franklin was not present and we were unable to record DotNetRocks as originally planned. It now looks like we will make this up at the OpenForce '07 conference in Las Vegas.
Everyone I talked to at the conference was excited by a chance to meet so many DotNetNuke experts in one place. Without a doubt there has not been another single event where you could get as much in-depth information about DotNetNuke from people who clearly had "been there, done that".
One thing that I truly appreciate about DotNetNuke is the great community. Not only did we have great turnout for the conference, we also had community members who came to the Arnhem just to meet with some of the core team members. We had a great meeting where we were able to discuss a lot of localization issues to be addressed in upcoming DotNetNuke releases. I think that Peter Donker and the rest of the European contingent have a good handle on what is needed to help us complete the localization framework for DotNetNuke and I look forward to seeing some of their prototypes and designs that will help us resolve the last few remaining localization issues. One aspect of the OpenForce conference which was very positive, is that we were able to help broaden the audience for SDC. In the past, SDC has primarily consisted of attendees from the Netherlands. This year, due in large part to the DotNetNuke community, we had people coming from all over Europe.
I want to give my sincere thanks to Joop Pecht, Remi Caron and the rest of the SDN staff. We could not have pulled it off without their support and assistance. Although I spent a lot of time on Skype and IM over the last couple of months with Joop, there is so much that they handled on our behalf behind the scenes that we could not have done without them.
I also want to thank Sebastian Leupold and Leigh Pointer for showing me around Haarlem and Amsterdam. The food was great and the beer was awesome, although I am still not so sure about the whole windmill myth (for those who don't know, don't believe everything you see in pictures). Next year I'll bring the wife and we can really hit the town. Heck maybe we'll even see some wooden shoe wearing women selling tulips under a windmill.
For those who did not submit sessions when the call for speakers went out, you missed a chance to speak at a great conference. Not only that, but Joop and the SDN really treat their speakers very well. The trip to the movies and a day on the beach in Hoek van Holland were a great way to cap off a wonderful conference.
While it may be too late to partake in the festivities at OpenForce Europe, you can still make up for it by coming to OpenForce '07 in Las Vegas. This conference promises to be even larger and more exciting than the European conference. Where the SDC/OpenForce event had a combined attendance of almost 450 people, DevConnections/OpenForce '07 will have almost 10 times the number of attendees and a huge expo hall with over 100 exhibitors (including several DotNetNuke vendors). Heck just the license for Visual Studio 2008 is a great reason to attend the conference. Who knows, maybe you'll ride home on a brand new Harley Davidson with a copy of Visual Studio 2008 tucked under your arm. I'll be there! What about you?